An Arab newspaper in London has reported that al-Qaeda intends on launching an attack on the US that would “outdo by far” the 9/11 attacks.  Al-Quds al-Arabi also reported that their Yemeni contact within AQ, a “former senior operative”, says the terrorist network has already begun consolidating its networks in preparation for the attack:

OSAMA bin Laden is planning an attack against the United States that will “outdo by far” September 11, an Arab newspaper in London has reported.

And according to a former senior Yemeni al-Qaeda operative, the terrorist organisation has entered a “positive phase”, reinforcing specific training camps around the world that will lead the next “wave of action” against the West.

The warning, on the front page of an Arabic newspaper published in London, Al-Quds Al-Arabi – and widely reported in the major Italian papers – quotes a person described as being “very close to al-Qaeda” in Yemen.

The paper is edited by Abdel al-Bari Atwan, who is said to be the last journalist to interview Osama bin Laden in 1996. According to the report, bin Laden is himself closely following preparations for an attack against the US and aims to “change the face of world politics and economics”. The operative is quoted as saying that “this will be shown by the fact that we now control a major part of the south of Somalia”.

The Australian newspaper The Age accepts this at face value, despite the hardships AQ has faced over the last few years.  They have had difficulty recruiting ever since the collapse of their effort in Iraq, and the financing for their network has become far more problematic since 9/11.  The claim to control significant territory in Somalia sounds like a gross exaggeration, but even if they did, Somalia hardly gives them funding or strategic positioning.  Most damning is the lack of any real action from AQ over the last two years as they watched their organization get destroyed in Iraq.

That doesn’t make them dead, though, and they may still have enough resources to at least attempt a major action against the US.  It only took 19 men to make the 9/11 attacks succeed, after all.  We’re now much more vigilant about security and counterterrorism than we were before the attacks, but they’ve also had time to adapt.

What targets would “change the face of world politics and economics”?  That sounds like a renewed focus on either New York City or Washington DC, or perhaps both.  They could be looking at Wall Street, the UN, or perhaps a strike at Capitol Hill.

Still, this sounds more like empty bravado than an imminent threat.  Osama wants to make himself relevant after hitching his wagon to the war in Iraq and losing badly.  Talking up his plans for world domination may win him a few more recruits, but he’s too busy hiding from Predators to do much else.